Monthly Archives: January 2013

Never enough hours in the day

I keep thinking next week, things will slow down.

20130128-150309.jpg

The Top of the Queue

Since my mother has been saying the same thing for as long as I can remember, you’d think that I would have it figured out by now: life never slows down. No?

Anyway, there are three projects vying for brain-space at the top of the queue. I hate having multiple projects on the go, but for better or for worse I’ve made baby steps towards all of these.

A vintage Mail Order dress

First up is this vintage mail-order pattern (undated but my guess is 50s?), which I bought from New Vintage Lady last January. Shortly after Christmas I got ambitious and traced it,  and did a quick muslin of the bodice. It’s about two sizes too small, but actually the only snug part of the muslin was the waist (big surprise). So I think I will make it up as is, with short sleeves, and adding about 1.5cm on each pattern piece at the waist. I want to use this aqua plaid cotton, which I originally bought for the Christmas Dress, but deemed insufficiently Christmassy. It’s perfect for the fun grain-playing in this dress. The skirt will need to be a good bit shorter, too. Speaking of vintage details, it calls for a snap placket at the side seam.

Oonapants in progress

Moving on, the dearth of warm tights in my winter wardrobe led to a wild urge to create some awesome Oonapants for myself. Unfortunately (or fortunately), my sensible side pointed out that I have nothing at all in my wardrobe I’d be inclined to wear with Oonapants, not being quite as wild and smashing as the Kalkatroonan herself. Obviously I needed a cute little black dress to showcase my crazy (future) tights. This had me pawing through my patterns feverishly for several hours before settling on the wiggle dress from Gertie’s book, (only shorter) which I bought back in the fall but haven’t actually used yet.* I have a lightweight black stretch twill that would be perfect, as well. It’s traced out and I had pulled out fabric for a muslin as well, but haven’t made it yet. I’m not allowed to buy any crazy jersey for more leggings until it’s made, though.

Vogue 7448 muslin-cum-sweater

And then, the twitter stitchers got going on the coats. I knew there was a reason I stayed away from Twitter for so long…  😉 And Oona (always the troublemaker) #sewingdared me to make a coat. And the next thing I know there’s a hashtag, #sewcoatbuddy, and, well, what to do but pull out the pieces of Vogue 7448, originally made up by Zoe of So, Zo, What do you know?. Which was probably the coolest giveaway I’ve ever gotten. I’ve had the fabric since last year, but finally got lining and interlining just after Christmas. So I guess I need to get moving on that, too, before I run out of winter. Although winter feels pretty endless here right now…

A Birthday Niece

A Birthday Niece

I didn’t manage to get a lot of good shots of Fyon’s birthday dress… but it was well received, even if it isn’t QUITE the cutest thing I’ve ever sewed her. I do have to make a fluffy dress for her little sister, the Waif, now, though…

And I still need a new pair of fleece pants. But that’s a story for another day…

*If I had anything like the brain-space for making resolutions this year, I think I’d resolve to actually USE some of those pattern books I keep buying. I have the Colette book, Gertie’s book, Drape Drape 2, and got a few more for Christmas!

13 Comments

Filed under Sewing

There is sewing…

Rather feverish sewing, actually. I’m working a bunch this week so the sewing time is tight.

20130124-232711.jpg

But, I have made some progress, at least, on my niece’s birthday dress. Still not sure how I’ll handle the dickie… I love the suggestion of an undershirt or slip, but lack ambition. I will do a side zip, though.

And at some point I’ll get to sew for MEEEEEE dammit!

9 Comments

Filed under Sewing

A Vintage Conundrum

20130121-151855.jpg

As things tend to when I’m not paying attention (which is almost always, apparently) a significant date has crept up on me. In particular, Fyon, my five-year-old niece, has her sixth birthday in a week. An auntie-stitched project of some sort is practically de rigeur, of course, but in the past the sheer physical distance meant that delivery dates were, well, flexible. Sometimes six months late flexible. Not so much when we’re spitting distance away.

Happily, it didn’t take much for me to pick a pattern: Butterick 3666*, a darling little sailor dress in the right size that I already know Fyon adores (because a favourite game these days is paging through the pattern listings on Auntie’s phone). Best of all, since we’re currently in the depths of the Canadian winter here, it has SLEEVES. A little more thinking, and a wee bit of fabric enabling, and I had acquired an eyelet cotton for an overlayer and a solid navy underlayer, which will look smashing, I think. Unless I decide to go white-on-white.

But, as I traced off the (uncut!) pattern, some troubling features became apparent. The dress has, um, some very vintage details. Like a side placket that closes with hook and eyes, and a little dickie in the front that snaps open and closed. It brings to mind fond childhood memories of the sailor dresses in my Grandma’s tickle trunk, which originally belonged to my mother and her sister. It also reminds me of how damn annoying those little snaps were, always popping open at inopportune moments and never looking quite as tidy as they ought.

I’ve been wracking my brain, though, and I can’t come up with a way to adjust the closures that won’t require major pattern surgery. A back opening doesn’t work with the sailor collar, and a front opening would be a fairly major design change. I don’t want to make the collar removable, either, because that’s just as fiddly. If it were a dress for me, I’d probably go with the “vintage details” just for the fun of it, but the last thing I want to make my niece is a dress that’s annoying to wear. And I don’t trust that the head opening will be large enough if I sew the dickie in place, although obviously I can sub in a zipper at the side seam.

grum.

Anybody with better 3D reasoning than me (or just more experience with sailor collars) have any ideas? 🙂

*Also, for the avid readers, a part of Carol Evans’ Wardrobe.

16 Comments

Filed under Sewing

Grrrr!

20130120-084307.jpg

I hate it when I mean to hit “save” on a post and hit publish instead! To those who are subscribed by email or in readers, and just totally got subjected to a half-written post, typos and all, here’s a quick in progress picture. To the rest of you, sorry for the confusion this post is causing. The real post will be up when I actually, y’know, sew the stuff I’m talking about.

And, since my recent excursion into Twitter (@tanitisis, if you’re on there) has me thinking of everything in terms of hashtags, #bloggerfail

And #oonapants!

4 Comments

Filed under Sewing

Christmas Shirts

A Shirt for my Sweetie

A Shirt for my Sweetie

The Muse of Creative Titles has deserted me, sorry. Well, really, there was pretty much zero creativity in this whole project. I made the two prime men in my life, my husband and my father, shirts for Christmas. It occurs to me that perhaps I should’ve made one for my brother, but, well, he’s in Australia. He gets heat for Christmas. Every year.

A shirt for my Father

A shirt for my Father

Since I was stressed for both time and mental energy, I followed the pattern, the Colette Negroni, to the point of slavishness. I made a size M for the hubs and a size L for my Dad. I was terrified that both would be too small, but both turned out pretty much perfect. I made zero pattern alterations (since I used the short-sleeve version. I hadn’t bought enough fabric for long sleeves for either version, because I am braindead; I would’ve lengthened the sleeves on both if I were doing long sleeves) and used fabric I had picked up ages ago, a grey and black linens with (probably unfortunately) a bit of stretch. And yes, plenty of that good ol’ linen wrinkliness. I had actually chosen the pattern and the fabric for my husband ages ago, as the short-sleeved version of the Negroni has the exact style details of a linen shirt my husband bought during our one and only (and very overwhelming) trip to New York, back in… well, we didn’t need passports to do it, let’s leave it at that. Which shirt he’s subsequently worn to death.

Collar closeup

Collar closeup. I did the little loop as per the pattern; I probably wouldn’t do it again. It doesn’t seem like it’d ever be functional.

Unfortunately, the odds of me getting actual modeled shots from either giftee are pretty much nil, so, you get stuck with boring hanger shots. Most of which are of the grey shirt for my Dad, since, well, photographing black.

Sleeve hem

Sleeve hem

I used an extra-long triple stitch for the topstitching.

Sleeve cap

Sleeve cap

I flat-felled the shoulder seams according to the pattern’s instructions. The first set turned out quite badly, the second set somewhat better. I’m not sure I’m completely in love with the method, but like I said, zero mental energy for researching creative techniques. It’s certainly adequate. (And I have a long history of attempting to flat-fell shirts and giving up in disgust and going with the serge-and-topstitch method.)

Front facing

Front facing

My Dad’s shirt had to feature one detail that my husband’s never do—a pocket. I didn’t do two out of fear of having to make them match, but I knew he’d want one to pop his glasses into. Which he did, within moments of putting on the shirt. So, win. I do like the method for finishing the top of the pocket, and the little triangles to secure the top corners. I should’ve used a template for the pocket, though, it was not as well-shaped as it should’ve been.

I made round-ended buttonholes, the kind a buttonholer puts in, using a setting on the Janome Memorycraft, just because I could. And, well, my buttonholer generally ends up being precisely not where I am most of the time. Like most of my sewing supplies these days, since they’re spread out across three different houses. /sigh.

And that, as they say, is that, and probably more detail than either shirt really deserves. I think they were both well-received, though. So I am satisfied. And I promise I’ll have something more fun to blog about soon! 🙂

 

10 Comments

Filed under Sewing

Busybusybusy

20130114-234338.jpg

I sewed this for my dad for Christmas. Hopefully one of these days I’ll have time to write an actual post on it… 😉

3 Comments

Filed under Sewing

Spelunking for treadles

Box

Pardon me while I continue my informal catalogue of All The Things. Where “The Things” are elderly and antique sewing machines belonging to, well, everyone I know. Over Christmas we had the opportunity to visit my grandma, who is nearly ninety, on the old family farm. I fear I pestered her more or less continuously about sewing-related subjects… But she seemed fairly happy to tell me about sewing her own wedding dress and her mother making patterns from scratch. And then, of course, there are the machines.

The Machine

Exhibit A is the “new” machine. Meaning, the new electric machine my Grandma got for herself, probably in the very early sixties. It’s a lovely teal (!) straight-stitch Domestic, manufactured by White. Doesn’t it look like a rocket ship? It reminds me very much of the Piedmont, although it is a bit more futuristic, and probably (?) a year or five newer. The functionality is identical.

Buttonholers, attachments, and odds ‘n ends, oh my!

It took some digging around, but we eventually located the pedal and the attachments, including a nice set of hemmers and a Greist buttonholer (no eyelet template. /sigh). I gave it a bit of oil and changed the needle.

The needle that was in the machine.

Have you ever seen a needle that dull? I stitched a sample hem (to show my Grandma how the hemmer feet, which she never used, work) and a buttonhole just because. I would’ve liked to give it more of a workout, but the only “mending” lying around was some old coveralls that really, if I were to start patching, would end up more patch than original cloth. So I didn’t.

To infinity and beyond!

Cute machine, though. I would totally take it into space with me.

Stocking-mending kit. Not, actually, a matchbook.

My fave bit of paraphernalia was what I initially took to be a matchbook, tucked in the old sewing case (which belonged to my great, or possibly great great, grandma). Turns out it was for mending stockings—the stuff on the “matchheads” is some kind of water-soluble glue to stop runs, and then there is silk thread for darning the runs after, or something.

Then there is the treadle situation. There was, I was assured, a treadle on the farm. Granny (this would be my Grandma’s mother-in-law) had one, which Grandma used before she got the electric above. After Granny and her husband died, my Grandma and family moved into the “Big House” and the treadle was relegated to storage in the little house.

The Little House

The little house was built by my grandfather when he married my grandmother, and as far as I can tell was only occupied during the fifties. When my great-grandmother (Granny) and great grandfather died, in the early sixties, the younger generations moved into the big house, and the little house has been mostly abandoned ever since, although I do recall some half-hearted renovations now and then during my own childhood.

So, it took some considerable effort to get to view this mysterious treadle. First of all, it’s the middle of winter. There’s a foot and a half of snow on the ground. Just getting to the little house required some serious snow-slogging and a modest amount of shoveling. Then came the real spelunking, clambering through and around the array of… objects… which have come to occupy the little house, by the light of the flashlight plus the dim sunlight filtering through the ragged curtains.

Boxes and tins were moved, a mattress was dodged, and at last, just barely, we beheld the treadle.

Look familiar?

A Singer.

Actually, a Singer more or less identical to this one belonging to my Stylish sister-in-law.

Actually, a Singer completely identical to my SIL’s. Right down to the JA serial number that marks it as being manufactured in 1924.

1924 Sphinx-decal Singer

I’m not sure whether to laugh or headdesk. I didn’t get to dig around to see if it had manuals or attachments or anything—we’ll give that a shot in the summer. It does still move, and will probably be just fine with a bit of oil, but again, not something I’m going to attempt at this time of year.

But at least it’s a known quantity.

Now I’m just wondering what happened to Grandma’s mother’s machine. It was an Eaton’s machine, Grandma assures me. Maybe her surviving sister has it…

You may now return to your regularly-schedules sewing blogs. Where, y’know, actual sewing is happening. I have so many plans and so little time… >_<

32 Comments

Filed under Sewing